I recently had a DM conversation with one of my connections on LinkedIn. Alexa Steele read my blog post on why not to like a tweet you didn’t read and she wanted to tell me that she noticed a similar behavior happening on her go-to social channel, LinkedIn.
See, she starts group discussions across groups on LinkedIn because she wants to start engaging conversations that build upon comment after comment, person’s view after person’s view.
But it doesn’t always happen. She always finds several members within the group discussion who post comments that go against this philosophy.
No, the comments aren’t offensive or threatening. No, the comments don’t slam a group member’s opinion. No, the comments aren’t run-on tangents or unrelated to the topic.
In fact, the comments are actually about the group discussion at hand.
So, what do these LinkedIn group members do wrong?
Prepare yourself for an “ahh” moment:
Many LinkedIn group members leave a comment in a group discussion only after reading the headline.
That means the group member scrolled all the way down to the comments box, past all the comments within the discussion, to type out what they want to post.
This isn’t the worst thing you can do on LinkedIn. But I definitely agree with Alexa that it isn’t a nice behavior to the group.
Don’t agree? Let’s bring this example out of its digital context and into a real-world, real-time scenario.
Let’s Pretend the LinkedIn Group Discussion Doesn’t Happen Online
Say you’re at a party. You’re standing within a circle of seven friends and the conversation dies down. This is the perfect chance for you to ask your question: Should you adopt a dog?
Person 1 answers you by saying that if you love dogs, then yes!
Person 2 agrees with Person 1 but reminds you that you must make big changes in your schedule so that you can take care of your new dog.
Person 3 piggybacks Person 2 by saying that it’s also important that you can financially support your dog before you adopt.
Person 4 suggests dog adoption shelters that also help you determine if you’re ready for a forever friend.
Then Person 5 steps in front of the group and, with his back to the other conversation participants, speaks only to you. He says you should not adopt a dog because some of your friends could be allergic.
Don’t be Person 5
There’s nothing wrong with his opinion. Many people do not adopt dogs because close family or friends are very allergic.
It’s not about what he said. It’s about how Person 5 said it.
He joins the conversation, but quickly turns it from a group discussion to a one-on-one chat by keeping his back to the others in the group. His behavior can lead to the following next scenarios:
- The group breaks into twos and threes, thus creating more mini-discussions.
- The conversation dies down again and everyone feigns a need to use the bathroom or to grab another drink.
- The conversation continues by Person 6 saying that she adopted her dog from the shelter Person 4 mentioned earlier and has no regrets.
- You ask a question building off what the others in the group have said and the discussion continues in another direction.
Notice how Person 5 isn’t mentioned in any of these scenarios.
And that’s just it. The group has to work that much harder to keep the conversation alive or accept that the discussion is now over.
And that’s just what happens when someone comments on a LinkedIn group discussion and only read the headline. They ignore everyone else’s input and try to start the conversation from scratch.
Why Does This Happen?
It’s not malicious. Members don’t have an evil diabolical plan to kill as many LinkedIn group discussions as they can.
Some are so excited to comment in the discussion that they “blurt” their answer without reading the digital conversation.
Some just don’t feel like reading everyone’s response to the discussion, especially those conversations with dozens of posts. So they decide not to read any.
Some only comment for the exposure, hoping you’ll click on their LinkedIn profile, send a connection invite or solicit their business.
Regardless of why it happens, it’s hurting the purpose of the discussion within the group.
How You Can Fix It
If you’re Person 5, it’s time to sit back ask yourself this: Why am I really commenting on this group discussion?
Do you want to network with your peers? Or do you just want to be seen and heard?
The purpose of a LinkedIn group is to network with other LinkedIn members within your field as well as to strengthen the dialogue within the industry, including helping out those members who ask for advice.
If this isn’t why you are joining group discussions, maybe you should sit this conversation out.
If you genuinely want to be part of the dialogue, there’s still hope for you. And it’s not too hard to change.
You don’t have to read every comment in a long thread. But read a handful of posts within the discussion. You may find that what you were going to say has already been posted or that you have something to add to another comment or two.
When you comment, acknowledge other members. Say, “I agree with you Cathy” or “Jon, have you thought of XYZ this way?”
It doesn’t take much time to get a feel for the discussion. And it’s this effort that makes all the difference.
What are your thoughts? Do you think it’s a bad practice to leave a comment in a group discussion only after reading the headline? Share your opinion below.